Connect with us


Mike Pence Saved The Republic On Jan. 6 – And No One Is Talking About It, Not Even Him

Mike Pence Saved The Republic On Jan. 6 – And No One Is Talking About It, Not Even Him
Mike Pence Saved The Republic On Jan. 6 – And No One Is Talking About It, Not Even Him

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Mike Pence saved American democracy on Jan. 6, and no one wants to talk about it. Not even Mike Pence.

With his boss, then-President Donald Trump, publicly and privately leaning on him to overthrow the November election won by Democrat Joe Biden and instead award Trump a second term in the White House, Pence refused.

After the violent mob Trump had invited to Washington stormed the Capitol, chanting “Hang Mike Pence!” as they hunted for him, was cleared, the vice president returned to the dais in his role as presiding officer of the Senate, visibly angry, and finished the job.

“To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today, you did not win. Violence never wins. Freedom wins,” Pence said, using language that could have been directed at Trump himself. “And as we reconvene in this chamber, the world will again witness the resilience and strength of our democracy, for even in the wake of unprecedented violence and vandalism at this Capitol, the elected representatives of the people of the United States have assembled again on the very same day to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

“Literally our democracy hung in the balance,” said J. Michael Luttig, a retired federal judge whose 165-word Twitter thread Pence quoted earlier that day in explaining his decision. “This is really scary stuff.”

Yet not six months after Pence’s decision to stand firm — which averted, at the very least, a constitutional crisis, and quite possibly open warfare and bloodshed in the streets — his heroics are all but forgotten. In fact, many if not most Americans refuse to see them as such.

Mike Pence wasn’t a hero. He just wasn’t willing to be America’s greatest monster, and that’s what he would have been.
Amanda Carpenter, former aide to Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz

Democrats maintain that following the law and the Constitution should not be the basis for praise, particularly after four years of obsequious fawning over Trump. Many independents give him grudging credit for preventing disaster, but still do not see anything heroic. And for a lot of Republicans, most of whom still support the former president, he is exactly as a former top Trump White House adviser recently described him: “Benedict Arnold Pence.”

Ironically, the person least interested in making a big deal out of Pence’s actions could well be Pence himself as he undertakes the perhaps impossible task of winning over the voters angriest with him for refusing to steal the presidency for Trump and tries to chart out a path to win that job himself.

Indeed, in his first public remarks about Trump’s attempt to overturn the election at a gathering of Christian conservatives in late April, Pence described it as the “tragedy at our nation’s Capitol,” just one of several difficulties the nation faced in the previous year, like the pandemic or the civil rights protests.

It wasn’t until last week in New Hampshire that Pence finally acknowledged that he and Trump did not agree about what happened on Jan. 6 — “I don’t know if we’ll ever see eye to eye about that day” — but even that was leavened, both before and after, with fulsome praise for the man who had asked him to end American democracy and with pride in the “Trump-Pence record.”

And to Pence’s critics, those words, which included a comparison of Trump to former president and conservative icon Ronald Reagan, are proof that Pence’s Jan. 6 action was more about preserving his own political future than saving the country.

“Mike Pence wasn’t a hero. He just wasn’t willing to be America’s greatest monster, and that’s what he would have been,” said Amanda Carpenter, a former aide to Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. “He’s proud of the Trump-Pence record? The Trump-Pence record includes an insurrection, and he didn’t say boo about it until Jan. 6.”

Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

An American Coup

In 220 years, starting with John Adams in 1800, 16 sitting presidents have lost attempts to win another term. Trump was the first to try to overturn democracy itself in an attempt to hang on to power — with some advisers even discussing the use of martial law.

It reached the point that Trump’s top appointee at the Defense Department actively worried about a military coup, and every living previous defense secretary signed a letter reminding the 1.4 million men and women in uniform that their loyalty lay with the Constitution, not with any single person, and that this principle would be enforced with criminal penalties, if necessary.

While Trump did not begin promoting his Jan. 6 plan centered around Pence and the Electoral College certification until Dec. 19, the roadmap for that day was actually plotted out months earlier as Trump began telling his followers that he could not possibly lose a fair election.

“The only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged,” he told supporters in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, on Aug. 17.

That groundless claim was repeated frequently at his rallies and in media interviews, and, combined with Trump’s refusal to promise that he would accept the November results if he lost, provided a clear clue about his strategy in the event that Biden won.

Factoring heavily into those plans were statements last June little noticed by the general public, but which some top Trump advisers saw as a major setback. Following the June 1, 2020, tear-gas-and-beating-enforced clearing of Lafayette Square so that Trump could stage a photo opportunity holding a Bible, both Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley apologized for their presence alongside the president and stated that it was inappropriate for the military to be involved in domestic politics.

The message to Trump was clear. Whatever scheme he might be contemplating in the event he lost, the military would play no part in it. 

Top White House adviser Peter Navarro, in fact, grumbled in appearances on Stephen Bannon’s pro-Trump podcast that the statements were disrespectful to the commander-in-chief.

“The secretary of defense, really, he had it in for the president. He was so disruptive in that last year, to the White House, and Milley, who basically went after the president during the Bible Walk,” Navarro said on March 16, two weeks before he called Pence “Benedict Arnold Pence” for not obeying Trump on Jan. 6. 

What was Trump asking Mike Pence to do to the country? This is a blood test for being a Republican. You have to say that the election was stolen or you can’t be a Republican.
J. Michael Luttig, retired federal judge

Navarro, who did not respond to HuffPost’s queries for this story, also complained that neither man would support Trump’s attempts to use the 1807 Insurrection Act – which Navarro and other Trump advisers suggested using as a tool to stay in power ― to put down civil rights protests and riots last summer. “The Pentagon, Esper and Milley, they fought that tooth and nail,” Navarro said.

With the military unwilling to play ball, Trump turned first to the courts to reverse the election results that saw him lose by 7 million votes nationally and 306-232 in the Electoral College. He claimed states had illegally changed the rules of the election. He claimed that noncitizens had voted. He claimed dead people had voted. But none of these claims went anywhere as court after court either rejected them out of hand for lack of proof or because Trump’s team had waited too long to file its complaints about process.

Trump then turned to the state legislatures, pressing Republicans to reject the vote tallies and to simply award their electoral votes to him. Those attempts also went nowhere, and on Dec. 14, the Electoral College made Biden’s win official.

Which shifted Trump’s focus to his ever-loyal vice president.

Between The Boss And The Constitution

Such was the backstory the morning of Jan. 6, when the fate of the republic was put into the hands of a onetime radio talk show host turned congressman turned governor. Pence had been facing a tough reelection in Indiana in the summer of 2016 when he was plucked, thanks primarily to his low-key demeanor and popularity with evangelical Christian voters, as Trump’s running mate.

For four years, he made his public persona an adjunct of his boss, constantly praising his leadership, his wisdom, his strength, his broad shoulders. At times, his actions drew open mockery — most famously, perhaps, when during a 2018 meeting at FEMA headquarters, after Trump inexplicably moved his water bottle from the conference table to the floor, Pence did the same with his own.

This made his break from Trump all the more dramatic. At 1:02 p.m. on Jan. 6, it arrived in the form of a Twitter post of Pence’s two-page letter to every member of Congress, explaining that after researching the matter and despite his own concerns about the way the election had been conducted, he had no power to do anything about it.

“It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not,” he wrote.

Die-hard supporters of Trump who hung on his every word found that statement stunning, given that less than 24 hours earlier, Trump had claimed that Pence had the sole discretion to reject “corrupt” and “illegal” electoral vote tallies from states, and that he and Pence were “in total agreement that the vice president has the power to act.”

Trump’s statement, unsurprisingly, was a complete lie. In fact, Pence had been explaining for weeks, since Trump and a team of conspiracy-mongering lawyers including Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell had presented him with the idea, that it was not something he could legally do.

“Heading into the 6th, there was a lot of unfortunate advice being given to the president,” said one top Trump White House adviser who spoke on condition of anonymity. “It was disheartening to see the clown car of lawyers with the cockamamie legal theories showing up every day.”

On Jan. 5, at the request of Pence’s advisers, Luttig posted on Twitter a short thread explaining that Pence did not have the authority to do what Trump wanted, and that refusing to do it was not disloyalty to Trump but, rather, loyalty to the Constitution.

“I knew what he needed, and why he needed me to do it. I’m not naïve,” Luttig told HuffPost recently. “He needed someone who could speak directly to the president. And he needed someone who could speak to Republicans and all conservatives.”

Pence continued to explain to Trump that he did not have the authority to overturn an election, with the last such conversation taking place by phone the late morning of Jan. 6, just minutes before Pence left for the Capitol to carry out his duties.

Supporters of then-President Donald Trump erected a gallows in front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, breached security a

Supporters of then-President Donald Trump erected a gallows in front of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, breached security and stormed the Capitol as Congress certified the Electoral College vote.

‘Hang Mike Pence!’

Trump, nevertheless, continued to pretend that Pence’s coming actions were still an open question.

At a rally on a grassy field with the White House as a backdrop, Trump told the tens of thousands of supporters he had asked to converge on the nation’s capital on that specific date and at that specific time that he hoped Pence would “do the right thing,” adding: “Because if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election.”

Trump also repeated his lie that he began telling just hours after polls closed on Nov. 3 that he actually had won the election and that it had been stolen from him. He told his followers that they had to fight if they wanted to change that. “Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong,” he said.

He told his people that he would walk to the Capitol with them to pressure Pence and Congress to do as he was demanding. But just as Trump was finishing up his hour and 10 minutes on stage, Pence’s letter to Congress was landing on lawmakers’ desks in the Capitol, in their email inboxes and, across the world, on Twitter. Trump instead returned to the White House — where he reacted with fury shortly afterward, lashing out in a Twitter post that Pence “didn’t have the courage” to do what was necessary.

His mob had already broken through police lines and invaded the Capitol building, and news of Trump’s tweet enraged the rioters further. Hundreds of them roamed the halls, arriving at the Senate chamber barely a minute after Secret Service had evacuated Pence, his family and his top aides to safety.

One of the rioters posted a video explaining: “Once we found out Pence turned on us and that they had stolen the election, like officially, the crowd went crazy. I mean, it became a mob.”

Another, famously wearing horns and shirtless, left a note for Pence: “It’s only a matter of time, justice is ­coming.”

The mayhem lasted for hours. Four Trump supporters died, including one who was shot by police as she was trying to climb through a broken window into an anteroom from which House members were still being cleared. One hundred and forty officers were injured, with one dying the next day. Two others took their own lives in the days to come.

Eventually, police and the National Guard regained control of the building and established a perimeter, and when Pence returned to the dais to resume the certification process, Trump’s last gambit to steal the election and overthrow democracy was dead.

I couldn’t watch it much longer because it was sickening. And it was scary.

Others in Congress and Trump’s own administration played vital parts in squelching Trump’s power grab that day, from military leaders, who made clear they would have no role in the election, to former Attorney General Bill Barr, who stated there was no election fraud of the type and scale Trump was claiming, to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who called his decision to honor the election results “the most important vote I’ve ever cast.”

But no one played as prominent a role as Pence, who then continued to obey the forms of a peaceful transfer of power by attending Biden’s inauguration even as Trump himself ensconced himself at his Palm Beach country club by the time Chief Justice John Roberts administered the oath of office.

“What Pence did was commendable, and he doesn’t get credit for it,” said George Conway, a longtime courtroom lawyer, a member of the conservative Federalist Society and an outspoken Trump critic.

Pence gave his most detailed public accounting of that day yet at a local GOP Lincoln-Reagan Day dinner in New Hampshire last week, for the first time acknowledging his break from Trump over what should have happened. “As I said that day, January 6 was a dark day in the history of the United States Capitol,” he said.

A little later, Pence added a biblical reference to his own role: “Be ready to keep our oath even when it hurts, as the good book says.”

‘Chaotic, Ungoverned, Potentially Violent’

It undersold, almost comically, what he had saved the country from.

Missing from Pence’s explanation to New Hampshire Republicans was any sort of reminder of what would have happened had he done what Trump, his innermost circle of advisers, and his hard-core supporters wanted.

Because while it is correct that neither the Constitution nor the Electoral Count Act gives the vice president the authority to pick and choose which states’ votes to accept and to not accept, documents and laws by themselves are not self-executing. They require officials in positions of authority to honor them and abide by them.

If Trump had had a more pliant vice president — chief of staff Mark Meadows, for example, who had already helped Trump try to coerce Georgia elections officials into “finding” 12,000 extra votes for him there — his plan likely would have proceeded. And the consequences for the country, legal experts agree, would have been horrific.

Both Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and McConnell, who at that point was still Senate majority leader, would have rejected such a move. The pair could have gone as far as to remove the vice president from the presiding officer role and gone ahead with ratifying the Dec. 14 Electoral College results untouched, said Conway, who believes that Pence would have been constrained legally.

“He couldn’t have declared Donald Trump the winner. He could only have mucked up the proceedings and slowed things down,” Conway said.

But that fails to take into account Trump’s likely refusal to accept a congressional ruling contrary to that of his vice president’s, and what he might have then told his followers — among them a sizeable number of white supremacist “militia” members — to do on his behalf, said Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard.

“Chaotic, ungoverned, potentially violent,” he said. “It’s terrifying how all of that has been normalized.”

That and the subsequent “and-then-whats” cross into completely uncharted territory. Would Congress have asked the Supreme Court to declare Biden the winner? Would the high court have taken such a case? Would Trump have honored a ruling he didn’t like?

“All hell would have broken loose, and I don’t think there’s any plausible path for the Supreme Court to have brought normalcy,” Tribe said. “The court would not have been eager to plunge itself into this whirlwind.”

Luttig, who served for 15 years on the federal appellate bench and was considered for the Supreme Court himself by former President George W. Bush, said the country could well have faced a situation where there was no legally certified winner of the presidential election. “This would have been a true constitutional crisis,” he said.

He added that he remembers watching the television coverage from the Capitol that day, knowing that Trump and his mob were reacting to Pence’s actions that he himself had advised. “I couldn’t watch it much longer because it was sickening,” he said. “And it was scary.”

In this screenshot taken from a webcast, the Senate votes 57-43 to acquit former President Donald Trump in his s

In this screenshot taken from a webcast, the Senate votes 57-43 to acquit former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial at the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 13, 2021.

The Elites That Did Not Defect

To scholars of autocracies, a key moment in their downfalls is when the autocrat suffers a setback that makes him look weak, which triggers denouncements by top aides and allies that results in the end of the regime.

To fascism expert Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Jan. 6 can be viewed as a moment of vulnerability for Donald Trump – if not for his rule over the United States, certainly for his grip on the Republican Party. And on that day and the days to come, she said, “elite defection” could have ended him forever.

“We had an act of political violence, straight out of the authoritarian playbook,” said Ben-Ghiat, author of “Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present” and a New York University history professor. “Pence could have been this elite defector. And he chose not to.”

Instead, he and the majority of the Republican Party almost immediately fell back in line behind Trump. Critics like Utah Sen. Mitt Romney and Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger were marginalized. Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, who was No. 3 in House GOP leadership, was removed from that post and replaced with a Trump acolyte. Even McConnell, who lashed out at Trump from the floor of the Senate after engineering his acquittal on his impeachment for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection, later told Fox News that he would vote for Trump in 2024 if he was the GOP presidential nominee.

One top GOP consultant, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said there was a very brief window immediately after the Capitol attack to banish Trump from the party. “Probably things could have been done on Jan. 7,” he said. “But they weren’t.”

Now the strategy is to try to ignore Jan. 6 as much as possible in an attempt to win back the House and Senate in 2022 and focus instead on Biden’s policies on taxes and spending and immigration. “If it’s about Jan. 6, that’s obviously not good for Republicans,” he said, adding that Trump remains powerful in the party because a large percentage of GOP voters continue to support him. “There’s nothing they can do because the base follows him.”

And that, Ben-Ghiat said, is precisely the absence of leadership that allows Trump to remain in charge of one of the two major parties in the nation, despite all that he has done.

“So many people could have been elite defectors, but they didn’t. There really isn’t enough support to drag the party away from Trump,” she said. “Trump is still the leader supreme.”

To Luttig, who worked in the Reagan White House and was appointed to the federal bench by George H.W. Bush, that reality is terrifying. “What was Trump asking Mike Pence to do to the country?” he said. “This is a blood test for being a Republican. You have to say that the election was stolen or you can’t be a Republican.” 

Stuck In Trump’s Shadow

Forty miles to the east of Pence’s Manchester speech and a few hours earlier, the Rotary Club of Portsmouth gathered in the second-story clubhouse of the Portsmouth Country Club for their weekly meeting. Members pledged allegiance to the flag, sang “My Country ’Tis of Thee,” bowed their heads for an invocation, noted birthdays of the month, and discussed the coming calendar before settling in for the day’s guest speaker from the Shoals Marine Laboratory, who told them about their educational and research work on sea birds and aquatic life.

Not one word of politics came up, let alone any mention of the 2024 presidential aspirants.

Yet it is exactly voters like these – older, wealthier Republicans and Republican-leaning independents – who could well make the difference for Pence in a 2024 New Hampshire primary, especially with the likelihood of no competitive Democratic contest to attract away voters in the open-primary state.

Unfortunately for Pence, at least as of now, they are not thrilled with the idea of his candidacy.

Cathy Nickerson, who is 61, a registered Republican and sells insurance in neighboring New Market, says she empathizes with Pence but does not feel he is the best candidate for 2024. “He was in an absolutely no-win situation,” she said.

“I appreciate what he did, standing up on that day,” said Rick Wallis, a 62-year-old banker from nearby Dover and an independent voter. He added that he cannot abide Trump and that Pence was too supportive of him for too long. “I feel bad that he was thrown under the bus. But he is staying with the party that threw him under the bus.”

He thought he could ride the tiger to the end, until he found himself in its jaws.
Jennifer Horn, former New Hampshire GOP chair

As for Democrats, they are unlikely to come to the rescue of the man who for four years enabled Trump and who, even after having to flee the Capitol for his personal safety, still refuses to forcefully condemn him, said David Axelrod, the architect of former President Barack Obama’s successful campaigns.

“I think many are grateful he did his duty but jaundiced by the fact that he defended Trump for months and years as he gathered all the kindling that erupted on the 6th,” he said.

Trump fans, meanwhile, see Pence with at best a skeptical eye and are likely to continue doing so as long as Trump keeps attacking his former running mate for failing to do as he demanded on Jan. 6.

“Definitely. I think Trump carries a lot of weight with his supporters. He’s still the leader of the party,” said Bruce Breton, a Town of Windham selectman and an early backer of Trump. “They are avid Trump fans, and they actually follow his every move and every word.”

Even Republicans who broke from Trump early on — a small but potentially significant part of the voting pool — say they cannot see supporting Pence.

“He thought he could ride the tiger to the end, until he found himself in its jaws,” said Jennifer Horn, a former New Hampshire GOP chair. “The fact that he displayed a miniscule respect for the system in the final moment of his term does not excuse everything else.”

For those less interested in Republican Party dynamics, the bigger question is how the country can recover from Jan. 6 when not even the man who saved it from an autocrat wants to talk about that.

“What happens to a bipartisan system when one party has abandoned democracy?” Ben-Ghiat wondered.

Tribe said he is grateful for Pence’s actions that day — “God knows where we would be now” — but worries for the future. “I don’t think we’ve dodged the bullet completely,” he said. “Democracies don’t last forever, and ours is on the very edge of either taking off and proving the autocracies wrong or collapsing.”

Source link

Click to comment


‘Arrogant’ Meghan McCain Angers Twitter Users Over Joe Biden Attack

‘Arrogant’ Meghan McCain Angers Twitter Users Over Joe Biden Attack
‘Arrogant’ Meghan McCain Angers Twitter Users Over Joe Biden Attack

Meghan McCain managed to irk many Twitter users on Monday’s episode of “The View” when she accused old family friend and current President Joe Biden of “doing grave spiritual harm to himself and harm to this country” by supporting abortion rights.

McCain was responding to U.S. Catholic bishops’ recent attempts to block Communion for Catholic politicians like Biden who think people should have safe and legal access to the medical procedure.

“The View” co-host ― who is not Catholic ― falsely suggested that Biden’s support for reproductive rights constitutes a cardinal sin. She also wondered why a person who says he’s personally opposed to abortion wouldn’t be comfortable imposing that belief on the rest of the country.

McCain likened the president’s stance to saying “I’m personally opposed to murder, but if you want to murder a little bit, it’s fine because it’s not my problem.”

Co-host Sunny Hostin pointed out to McCain that the same bishops attacking Biden had said nothing when former Attorney General William Barr, who is also Catholic, ushered in the death penalty for federal crimes, despite capital punishment being against church doctrine.

They also failed to condemn another Catholic, Newt Gingrich, for cheating on his ex-wife with his current wife, Callista, who coincidentally served as the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican.

Many Twitter users dragged McCain for overlooking those details.

Of course, some people had questions.

fbq('init', '1621685564716533'); // Edition specific fbq('track', "PageView");

(function () { 'use strict'; document.addEventListener('DOMContentLoaded', function () { document.body.addEventListener('click', function(event) { fbq('track', "Click"); }); }); })();

Source link

Continue Reading


Stonewall Inn Bans Certain Beers During Pride Over Anti-LGBTQ Political Support

Stonewall Inn Bans Certain Beers During Pride Over Anti-LGBTQ Political Support
Stonewall Inn Bans Certain Beers During Pride Over Anti-LGBTQ Political Support

NEW YORK (AP) — The Stonewall Inn’s owners say they won’t serve certain beers at the famous LGBT bar during Pride weekend to protest manufacturer Anheuser-Busch’s political contributions to some politicians who have supported anti-LGBT legislation.

Co-owners Stacy Lentz and Kurt Kelly said they would be instituting the ban on Friday in support of the “Keep Your Pride” campaign, a recently launched effort highlighting five companies that it says advertise support during Pride but have also made contributions to anti-LGBT lawmakers.

The campaign, a project of Corporate Accountability Action, used data compiled from the National Institute on Money in Politics to show that Anheuser-Busch contributed more than $35,000 to 29 legislators it described as anti-LGBT between 2015 and 2020.

“We just felt Stonewall having the platform, the power to do this, it was important to stand up,” Lentz said. “We really just want Anheuser-Busch to stop donating to lawmakers who are trying to legalize discrimination.”

In a statement, Anheuser-Busch said, “We support candidates for public office whose policy positions and objectives support investments in our communities, job creation, and industry growth.”

The statement continued, “Together, with our brands, we have a clear role to play in bringing real change and creating an inclusive and equitable world where we cherish and celebrate one another.”

It was at an earlier incarnation of the Stonewall Inn in June 1969 when bar patrons fought with police who had come to carry out a raid, which galvanized gay rights activism around the country and the world.

(function () { 'use strict'; document.addEventListener('DOMContentLoaded', function () { document.body.addEventListener('click', function(event) { fbq('track', "Click"); }); }); })();

Source link

Continue Reading


New York City’s Mayoral Race Remains Unpredictable, Even After Voting Has Begun

New York City’s Mayoral Race Remains Unpredictable, Even After Voting Has Begun
New York City’s Mayoral Race Remains Unpredictable, Even After Voting Has Begun

Voting has already begun in New York City’s Democratic mayoral primary.

Given the city’s heavy Democratic tilt, the winner of the primary, which concludes on Tuesday, is all but assured of the top job.

New York City, home to nearly 8.4 million people, is an American anomaly in many ways ― denser, more multicultural and less car-dependent than the country at large.

But this year — after eight years of Mayor Bill de Blasio, the Big Apple’s first Democratic leader in two decades, and a self-styled progressive loathed by the activist left and right in equal measure — the city could chart a course for the future of the Democratic Party.

The leading contenders for control of City Hall are Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams; former sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia; Maya Wiley, a former counselor to de Blasio; and former presidential candidate Andrew Yang.

Other less formidable candidates include city Comptroller Scott Stringer; former nonprofit executive Dianne Morales; former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan; and former Citigroup senior executive Ray McGuire.

Adams and Yang, both moderate by New York City standards, have led the polls most of the race. But lately, Yang’s standing has declined, while Garcia, a moderate running as a competent technocrat, has risen.

Although the result is still likely to disappoint the city’s activist left, Wiley, who has consolidated progressive support at the last minute, is now also in a competitive position. 

Below is a look at each of the top four candidates.

‘Old-School New York Politics’

Eric Adams campaigns with Mexican American community leaders in Brooklyn's Sunset Park neighborhood. Adams is the frontrunner

Eric Adams campaigns with Mexican American community leaders in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park neighborhood. Adams is the frontrunner thanks to his leads with Black and Latino voters.

Adams, a former New York City Police Department captain-turned-state senator and borough leader, is something of a throwback to the heyday of machine politics in New York.

Adams has leveraged long-standing relationships with politicians, business people, clergy and union leaders to a career in public office that has been defined by sometimes-outlandish antics, loose ethics, and a savvy nose for the direction political winds are blowing.

“The way he talks, the way he debates ― he is so old-school New York politics,” said Olivia Lapeyrolerie, a Democratic media consultant who used to work for de Blasio.

Another word to describe Adams might be “transactional”: He appears to trade favors for support. As Yang is fond of noting, Adams has been the subject of federal, state and local investigations for alleged violations of campaign finance or ethics laws. 

None of the probes has resulted in anything more than a rebuke of Adams’ judgment, though it is clear that he has used his campaign account ― and a nonprofit not subject to contribution limits ― to solicit support from real-estate moguls and other well-connected individuals whose interests he went on to boost while in office.

At the same time, Adams has a unique personality. Faced with a Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis in 2016 that threatened his eyesight, Adams became a vegan and an exercise nut who lost 30 pounds and eliminated his Diabetes symptoms. He meditates every day and writes in a journal; he credits the latter habit for his tendency to refer to himself in the third person. 

Although Adams was an outspoken member of a group of Black cops calling for reform within the NYPD, he was also a registered Republican in the late 1990s and suggested that the party had something to offer Black Americans.

Adams’ tenure in the state Senate was marked by his coziness with Republicans, who held the majority at the time, and a Democratic colleague, Hiram Monserrate, who was expelled in 2010 for slashing his girlfriend with broken glass. Adams objected to Monserrate’s expulsion, claiming that he wanted to wait to see whether his assault conviction was overturned on appeal.

Adams subsequently supported the 2018 reelection of Jesse Hamilton, a Democratic state senator aligned with senate Republicans, during Hamilton’s unsuccessful effort to ward off a progressive primary challenger.

Adams’ scandals have taken on an increasingly bizarre turn in recent weeks. A Politico investigation raised questions about whether Adams lived in Brooklyn, or split his time between Borough Hall and his partner’s condo in Fort Lee, New Jersey.

Adams, who took members of the press on a tour of a ground-floor apartment in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood where he claims to live, has likened the charges to former President Donald Trump’s racist suggestion that former President Barack Obama was not born in the United States.

Past ― and present ― peccadilloes notwithstanding, the secret to Adams’ strong performance in the mayoral primary has been his deep well of support in the city’s working- and middle-class, Black and Latino neighborhoods.

That support has widened thanks to his early and continued focus on the rising number of shootings and murders in the city. As the city’s recovery from the pandemic has taken flight, violent crime has become the central issue in the mayoral race.

Even as he promises to invest in long-term progressive solutions designed to attack the root causes of crime (a track he calls “prevention”), Adams has insisted on the need for more “intervention” as well ― short-term tactics like stationing more cops in subways and reconstituting the city’s plainclothes policing unit.

Yang has largely matched Adams’ tough-on-crime rhetoric and policy proposals in recent weeks, but Adams made it his central theme from the start. And of course, when it comes to crime, it is tough to out-do a former cop ― to say nothing of one who has mused about carrying a handgun at City Hall.

“When crime became such a dominant issue in the race, that positioned Eric Adams as the candidate to beat,” a New York Democratic strategist, who requested anonymity for professional reasons, told HuffPost.

‘A Progressive In Gracie Mansion’

Maya Wiley arrives at a rally in Brooklyn's Fort Greene Park. An endorsement from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) has

Maya Wiley arrives at a rally in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene Park. An endorsement from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) has helped consolidate the left behind Wiley.

If Adams is running as a lock-’em-up moderate disdainful of the activist left, civil rights attorney Maya Wiley is a champion of the social movements and causes that have breathed radical new life into city politics in recent years.

A former counselor to de Blasio, Wiley is casting herself as the city’s chance to deliver on the progress that de Blasio promised but fell short of providing. 

“I am the progressive who can win this race,” Wiley said at a June press conference. “And I look forward to earning the vote of every single New Yorker so we can choose a path where we all prosper.”

Even in a race defined by calls to crack down on crime, Wiley, who would be the first Black woman to govern the city, has stuck to bold reform proposals. She is calling for $1 billion in cuts to the NYPD budget to be transferred to social programs, and in one of her ads, featured footage of NYPD cars ramming Black Lives Matter protesters during demonstrations last summer.

Until the final few weeks of the campaign, Wiley occupied a kind of inverse goldilocks position as someone who neither had the perceived electability of Stringer ― a newcomer to left-wing causes ― nor the ideological purity of Morales. 

But with Stringer laid low by accusations of sexual misconduct and Morales’ campaign unraveled by charges of union-busting, progressives finally consolidated behind Wiley in June as their last best alternative to a moderate chief executive.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)’s surprise endorsement of Wiley on June 5 was a key turning point. Ocasio-Cortez framed a vote for Wiley as the only way to prevent a return to the pro-business and pro-police consensus of the Mike Bloomberg and Rudy Giuliani mayoralties. 

“These are the stakes,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “Maya Wiley is the one. She will be a progressive in Gracie Mansion.”

A recent poll showing Wiley in third place ― behind Adams and Garcia, but ahead of Yang ― has revived progressive hopes of a victory and suggested that lamentations of the disarray besetting the ascendant left in New York City might be premature.

You will see a lot of the Black community turn out for Black elected officials.
Olivia Lapeyrolerie, Democratic consultant

Wiley appears to benefit from a ranked-choice voting system that allows some ideologically flexible Black voters casting ballots for Adams to rank Wiley high up as well. Shoring up substantial Black support alongside that of college-educated liberals was one of de Blasio’s key political strengths, but an achievement that has since eluded many other would-be progressive leaders.

“You will see a lot of the Black community turn out for Black elected officials,” said Peyrolerie, who is Black.

At the same time, Wiley’s surge into the spotlight has heightened criticism from Adams and other moderates at what they see as her privileged brand of progressivism. Wiley lives with her family in an upscale Brooklyn community where a private security car patrols the streets. And she has actually elicited criticism from civil rights advocates for going too easy on police officers accused of misconduct during her tenure as chair of de Blasio’s Civilian Complaint Review Board.

“She is a hypocrite,” said Mona Davids, a South African immigrant, moderate political consultant and charter school parent in the Bronx’s Co-Op City neighborhood.

Wiley’s loss would embolden figures like Davids who accuse the activist left of being out of touch with the city’s multiracial working class.

“The small but loud minority of the activist left does not speak for the majority of New Yorkers and working families,” she said.

A Fresh Face Who Might Have Peaked Too Soon

Andrew Yang talks to a voter in Manhattan's Morningside Park on Saturday. Once a frontrunner, the businessman and former pres

Andrew Yang talks to a voter in Manhattan’s Morningside Park on Saturday. Once a frontrunner, the businessman and former presidential candidate has slid in recent polls.

For the first few months of the mayor’s race, it seemed like Andrew Yang, who would be the city’s first Asian American mayor, was the only candidate publicly campaigning. 

Not unlike Pete Buttigieg’s 2020 presidential campaign, Yang’s team adopted a “flood the zone” approach to media coverage. He was everywhere ― playing piano outside the Coney Island theme park in his announcement video, snapping selfies with fans of his proposal for universal basic income, and regaling New Yorkers with his commentary on professional basketball. He did so much in-person campaigning that he tested positive for COVID-19 in early February. 

Most of all, Yang’s earnest and upbeat tone felt like an elixir to the dark cloud of the pandemic ― a cheerleader the city needed to emerge from the crisis stronger.

“New York City! Can you feel it? Our comeback starts today,” he tweeted on Jan. 14.

But with greater media attention comes greater media scrutiny. The New York Times took a withering look at Venture for America, a nonprofit Yang founded that aimed to create startup jobs in struggling cities.

Local and national media also focused on Yang’s reliance on the counsel of Bradley Tusk, a former Bloomberg adviser who profited personally from lobbying against regulation of tech companies like Uber. It did not help matters that Tusk told a New York Times columnist that Yang is an “empty vessel,” solidifying suspicions that Yang would be a Trojan horse for big business.

What really hurt Yang — who, critics note, has never voted in a city election — was a series of public flubs in May that reinforced a sense that he was out of his league. For example, at a campaign discussion hosted by a provider of shelters for those who need a temporary place to stay, Yang suggested that there should be specific shelters for survivors of domestic violence — even though such shelters already exist.

He’s saying something different ― that’s all.
Brenda Williams, home health aide

For a candidate promising to bring fresh energy and business acumen to City Hall, the remarks ― and related mistakes ― eroded a potential strength. Without a base among Black voters or progressive activists, he needed to capture a significant portion of college-educated voters critical of de Blasio’s management of the city and incidents that pointed to his ignorance were not helpful.

“He doesn’t have a clue as to what he’s doing,” Joan Beranbaum, a retired union lawyer living in lower Manhattan, told HuffPost.

In addition, Yang’s strong online presence and national profile made him a greater object of left-wing scorn than Adams, even though many of his aides and allies believe his focus on cash relief for low-income families and generally open-minded spirit should make him more palatable to progressives than the former NYPD captain. A statement of unequivocal support for the Israeli government in mid-May that elicited stern condemnation from Ocasio-Cortez, despite similar remarks from Adams, embodied this trend.

By the time of the final debate, Yang had fully embraced his centrist coalition of Asian Americans, Orthodox Jews and moderate, outer-borough whites. In lieu of the cheerful New York sports fan was a guy complaining about illegal ATVs and mentally ill homeless men. 

“Yes, mentally ill people have rights, but you know who else have rights?” he said at a debate last week. “We do! The people and families of the city.”

Given his declining standing in the pre-election polls, Yang resorted to forging a one-sided coalition with Kathryn Garcia on Saturday. He plans to rank her second on his ballot and has advised his supporters to do the same, while Garcia, who campaigned alongside him, has not reciprocated.  

But Yang, whose most loyal voters ― Asian Americans and Orthodox Jews ― are hard to poll, still has a path to victory, particularly if enough voters ranking other candidates first include him on their ballots one way or another. 

“He’s saying something different ― that’s all,” said Brenda Williams, a home health care aide who plans to rank Yang second after Adams. “If we get something different, maybe something happen [sic] better.”

The Uncharismatic Manager

Kathryn Garcia campaigns on Manhattan's Upper West Side on Wednesday. It is unclear whether Garcia has enough support in work

Kathryn Garcia campaigns on Manhattan’s Upper West Side on Wednesday. It is unclear whether Garcia has enough support in working-class Black and Latino communities to win.

The high drama of the Yang-Adams slugfest, the decline of an experienced city hand like Stringer, and the hunger for more efficient city services have all converged to give Kathryn Garcia a shot at City Hall.

Garcia is ideologically closer to Yang and Adams than Wiley, Stringer or Morales. She supports unfettered private-sector housing development, more charter schools and tougher policing.

But Garcia, who would be the city’s first woman mayor, has managed to capture the imagination of college-educated liberals — many of whom are to her left ideologically — thanks to her relentless focus on managerial experience and competence. 

She got a major boost with this voting bloc when The New York Times endorsed her in mid-May. The Times touted, among other things, Garcia’s modernization of the city’s snow-plow system and successful reduction of lead paint in public housing.

“The city’s recovery and its longer-term future … depend on a mayor who will understand and work the levers of good government,” the Times’ editorial board wrote.

A divorced, pack-a-day smoker with a dry speaking style, Garcia is the candidate for voters tired of outsize personalities and eager for a boring, no-nonsense, get-it-done technocrat. 

I’m not running to get the title of mayor. I’m running to do the job of mayor.
Kathryn Garcia, former NYC sanitation commissioner

In addition to running the city’s sanitation department, she led emergency food distribution during the pandemic, headed up the city’s public housing authority for a period of time, and served as chief operating officer of the city’s department of environmental protection.

“I’m not running to get the title of mayor,” she said in the final debate. “I’m running to do the job of mayor ― because New York City needs someone who is going to roll up their sleeves and solve the impossible problems.”

In the rush to find an alternative to Adams or Yang, some of Garcia’s record has escaped greater scrutiny. Despite some of Garcia’s efforts, for example, the city’s recycling rate was 18% as of January 2020. And a state government audit of Garcia’s department that came out in September panned the city agency’s record at maintaining sidewalk and street cleanliness. 

What’s more, politics is part of a New York City mayor’s job ― and it’s not clear that Garcia has what it takes to win this election, let alone assemble delicate coalitions at City Hall.

Garcia lacks support in the city’s massive working-class Black and Latino communities, which narrows her path to victory. And she failed to secure a cross-endorsement with Ray McGuire that might have helped her make inroads with Black voters in southeast Queens and Harlem, according to The New York Times.

Garcia, who is adopted, has a brother named Matthew who is Black. She has mentioned him in the context of her sensitivity to police racial profiling, on Saturday posted a photo of them eating breakfast together, and referenced that she was “adopted into a multiracial family” in a TV ad

But neither Matthew, nor Garcia’s two Latino kids ― her ex-husband is Puerto Rican ― have appeared in any of her TV ads. That has deprived her of the kind of multiracial moment that vaulted de Blasio to the mayoralty in 2013. A TV ad featuring de Blasio’s Black teenage son Dante went viral and solidified his standing with Black voters.

Source link

Continue Reading


Former FDA Chief Says COVID-19 Variant May Cause Surge In States With Low Vaccination

Former FDA Chief Says COVID-19 Variant May Cause Surge In States With Low Vaccination
Former FDA Chief Says COVID-19 Variant May Cause Surge In States With Low Vaccination

Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the Food and Drug Administration, warned Sunday that an infectious variant of the coronavirus could lead to a new surge in COVID-19 infections in the fall, particularly in states with low vaccination rates.

Gottlieb made the comments on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” saying that while the White House should be celebrated for delivering more than 317 million doses of vaccine during President Joe Biden’s first months in office, the nation needed a new strategy to jab those who were still reluctant to get vaccinated. The former FDA commissioner added that data shows the growing threat of the Delta variant of the virus — which is up to 60% more contagious than earlier strains — could lead to a new wave of infections in places like Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Missouri.

The states have some of the lowest inoculation rates in the nation. 

“It doesn’t necessarily appear more pathogenic, meaning more dangerous, but it’s infecting people more easily and it’s starting to become very prevalent in the U.K. in communities that are unvaccinated,” the doctor said. “When we look across the United States, we see wide variance in terms of vaccination rates. Some states like Vermont or Connecticut have very high vaccination rates above 80%. Other states are struggling to get to 50%.”

He continued: “So Connecticut, for example, where I am, shows no upsurge of infection, but Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri show very substantial upsurges of infections. That’s based entirely on how much population wide immunity you have based on vaccination.”

The warnings echo those of current Biden administration officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, who urged Americans earlier this month to get their vaccinations. 

While the Delta variant is spreading rapidly, a recent study found that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 88% effective against the strain two weeks after the second dose. Gottlieb said proof of vaccine efficacy underscored the need for the Biden administration to rethink its vaccination campaign.

“We need to think about a different vaccine delivery strategy to get the people who are still reluctant or who still face challenges getting into those access sites,” Gottlieb said. “I think the vaccine administration is going to decline over the summer as prevalence declines. People aren’t going to be seeking out a vaccine in July and August. But as people contemplate going back to school and back to work in the fall, they will be seeking out vaccines.”

Gottlieb also said Sunday that the Biden administration’s recent announcement to spend $3.2 billion investing in a range of antiviral drug trials to combat COVID-19 and other dangerous viruses could be a “real game changer.” 

“I think we will get a drug that inhibits viral replication that could be taken on an outpatient basis and is basically like a Tamiflu for coronavirus that you could take when you first have symptoms, when you first have a diagnosis to prevent the progression to disease,” Gottlieb said. 

Source link

Continue Reading


Deadly Pride Parade Crash In South Florida Was Not Intentional: Officials

Deadly Pride Parade Crash In South Florida Was Not Intentional: Officials
Deadly Pride Parade Crash In South Florida Was Not Intentional: Officials

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A member of a men’s chorus group unintentionally slammed into fellow chorists at the start of a Pride parade in South Florida, killing one member of the group and seriously injuring another, the group’s director said Sunday, clarifying initial speculation that it was a hate crime directed at the gay community.

Wilton Manors Vice Mayor Paul Rolli and Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis said the early investigation shows it was an accident. The 77-year-old driver was taken into custody, but police said no charges have been filed and the investigation is ongoing.

The elderly driver had ailments that prevented him from walking, according to a statement Sunday from Fort Lauderdale Police, who said he was cooperating with the investigation and there was no evidence drugs or alcohol was involved.

“The early investigation now indicates it looks like it was a tragic accident, but nobody’s saying finally what it is,” Rolli told The Associated Press in a phone interview.

The driver and the victims were a part of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus family, a small 25-member group of mostly older men.

“Our fellow Chorus members were those injured and the driver is also a part of the Chorus family. To my knowledge, this was not an attack on the LGBTQ community,” President Justin Knight said in a statement Sunday, calling it “an unfortunate accident.”

Rolli was on the float in front of the chorus truck along with Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis and other city officials at a staging area where the floats were being readied. Trantalis said the driver of a pickup truck suddenly accelerated when he was told he was next in the parade, crashing into the victims.

The driver continued across all lanes of traffic, ultimately crashing into a fence on the other side of the street, police said.

Rolli was on the other side of the float and didn’t witness the crash, but jumped off immediately and ran to the victims. In the confusion, it was unclear what happened.

“People were really distraught and some people were crying,” said Rolli, who explained that the crash happened in an area where the floats were lining up, so there weren’t as many parade-goers. “I was getting phone calls from people I knew at the other end waiting for the parade saying, ‘Is this true? Is that true, do we have anything to worry about?’ You don’t know at that point.”

Fort Lauderdale Police said no arrests have been made saying they are conducting a thorough investigation with the FBI, nothing in a statement they are “considering and evaluating all possibilities.”

Trantalis, who is Fort Lauderdale’s first openly gay mayor, initially told reporters the act was deliberate, adding to the confusion Saturday night.

“It terrorized me and all around me … I feared it could be intentional based on what I saw from mere feet away,” he said in a Twitter statement Sunday. “As the facts continue to be pieced together, a picture is emerging of an accident in which a truck careened out of control.”

Wilton Manors is a tight-knit community near Fort Lauderdale with a vibrant downtown filled with cute shops, where people line up for Rosie’s famous hamburgers or to gossip and drink at Georgie’s Alibi Monkey Bar.

Photos and video from the scene showed Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in tears while in a convertible at the parade.

In a statement Saturday night, Wasserman Schultz said she was safe but “deeply shaken and devastated that a life was lost.”

“I am so heartbroken by what took place at this celebration,” she said. “May the memory of the life lost be for a blessing.”

A spokesman for the chorus said the director did not want to give interviews, adding that many members of the small group witnessed the fatal crash and were deeply shaken.

“The reason people like Wilton manors is the whole community is one big family and that’s how we treat each other … and this has really rattled a lot of people,” said Rolli. “Even if it’s an accident, just the loss of a life.”

June is Pride Month, commemorating the June 1969 police raid targeting gay patrons at the Stonewall Inn in New York that led to an uprising of LGBTQ Americans and served as a catalyst for the gay rights movement.

Source link

Continue Reading


Republicans Rip Sen. Joe Manchin’s Proposed Voting ‘Compromise’

Republicans Rip Sen. Joe Manchin’s Proposed Voting ‘Compromise’
Republicans Rip Sen. Joe Manchin’s Proposed Voting ‘Compromise’

Senate Republicans made clear on Thursday they oppose all Democratic ideas aiming to overhaul the nation’s voting systems ― even those proposed by moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

Their hard-line stance against any federal voting legislation underscores that there is very little chance for a bipartisan outcome on the matter, which Manchin has been insisting on.

Manchin on Wednesday outlined the voting provisions he would support in the For the People Act, a sweeping package of voting rights, campaign finance, ethics and redistricting reforms. His “compromise” list ― which is designed to unite Democrats together more than anything ― includes things like expanding early voting, mandating automatic voter registration, making Election Day a holiday, and other measures intended to expand access to the ballot. It does not include other, more expansive things supported by his fellow Democrats, such as public financing of elections.

But if there was any chance of getting Republicans on board with a more narrow bill, those hopes were quickly dashed on Thursday. Appearing at a press conference with a dozen other GOP senators, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called Manchin’s ideas “no compromise.”

“All Republicans will oppose that as well,” he said of Manchin’s narrower list of voting reforms.

In a statement issued prior to the press conference, McConnell said Manchin’s proposal “subverts the First Amendment to supercharge cancel culture and the left’s name-and-shame campaign model.”

Republicans were also quick to note that Democratic former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams had endorsed Manchin’s list of proposed voting changes, a way to dismiss the proposals as not actually bipartisan.

“When Stacey Abrams immediately endorsed Sen. Manchin’s proposal, it became the Stacey Abrams’ substitute, not the Joe Manchin substitute,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said.

Republicans have now functionally killed both of Manchin’s ideas on voting ― the passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, a narrow measure that would restore the ability of the Justice Department to oversee state election law changes, and his latest “compromise” offer on the For the People Act.

But when asked about McConnell’s stance on Thursday, Manchin seemed undeterred.

“McConnell has a right to do whatever he thinks he can do. I would hope that there’s enough good Republicans who understand the bedrock of our society is having an accessible, fair, open election,” Manchin said, repeating a version of something he said before Republicans ultimately filibustered legislation to establish a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

He expressed hope that bipartisan relationships forged in the Senate on other issues would ultimately help convince enough Republicans to support a voting bill.

“They’ll use those same connections and same relationships when we get into challenging areas right now with voting. I’m thinking they could reach out and help a little bit,” Manchin said.

Manchin has repeatedly vowed never to support eliminating the Senate filibuster, which stands in the way of passing legislation on voting rights, gun control, immigration, climate and a whole host of other priorities for Democrats. He’s shown no willingness to bend on the matter even as Republicans have rejected his efforts to forge bipartisan compromise.

The issue will come to a head next week when the Senate holds an initial vote to formally open debate on a voting bill. Democratic leaders have not said what kinds of changes, if any, they’ll make to the For the People Act, but it’s likely they will look something like what Manchin outlined this week. They’ll need his support to advance anything to the floor, and he indicated on Thursday that he would vote to proceed and at least start debate on the matter.

“I think we all want to do that,” Manchin said.

Even if Democrats ultimately win over Manchin, however, the bill is almost certainly going to be filibustered by Republicans.

Source link

Continue Reading

Recent Posts